Afghanistan 2004-2005

Lance Corporal Dan Robert, Lima Company

Lance Corporal Dan Robert, Lima Company

In the snow of far-off Northern lands…

In November 2004, 3rd Battalion conducted its first combat deployment in the Global War on Terror as part of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and became the sole Marine ground presence in eastern Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, 3rd Battalion would operate as Combined Task Force (CTF) Trinity — a part of Combined/Joint Task Force (CJTF) 76 — made up of the Army’s fellow Hawaii unit, the 25th Infantry Division. The battalion was broken down into four maneuver companies and one provisional rifle company (H&S). They were responsible for the security and governance of six provinces — Khowst, Kunar, Laghman, Logar, Nangahar, and Paktia — which covered an area roughly the size of West Virginia. The battalion initially set up its headquarters at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in Khowst Province. It transferred to FOB Jalal Abad in May after the southern half of its battlespace was turned over to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. During this time, 3rd Battalion conducted multiple mounted and dismounted actions, as well as an average of one large clearing operation a month. Contact with the enemy was mostly light and sporadic, with the notable exceptions of the Korengal Valley and the 8 May Ambush. Two Marines were killed and nine wounded before the battalion returned to Hawaii in June 2005.



India Company at RIMPAC 2004

India Company at RIMPAC 2004

“I think if you’re asking me (about 3rd Marines) going to the Middle East or another theater that’s active in the global war on terror — very, very real.” – Lieutenant Colonel Norm Cooling, 21 July 2004 (Honolulu Advertiser)

In mid-July 2004, 3rd Battalion was in the final stages of Exercise Rim of the Pacific when Lieutenant Colonel Norm Cooling received word that the battalion’s planned deployment as the ground element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had been cancelled. Instead the battalion would be deploying to OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan, where it would replace 3rd Battalion 6th Marines in Regional Command (RC) East. With just three months to prepare, and no standard training program for Afghanistan deployments, the battalion staff hastily drew up a new pre-deployment training program (PTP) with higher headquarters. A group led by Major Patrick Beckett left for Afghanistan on 12 August to conduct a Pre-Deployment Site Survey, and brought back valuable information to augment the battalion’s training program. The month of August saw the battalion rapidly adding new gear and training requirements. M-16A2’s were upgrade to M-16A4’s and M4 Carbines. Marines were given a crash-course in Dari, the official language of Afghanistan, although it would later turn out that most Afghans in the area spoke Pashto. Most importantly 80 new Marines joined the battalion, which had started the month at only 65 percent deployable strength. Some of them them arrived in the middle of the Combined Arms Exercise at Twentynine Palms, fresh out of infantry school.


Mark Skorup

Mark Skorup: Bridgeport, California

Between August 20 and August 27, the battalion made their way to Twentynine Palms, California for the pre-deployment Revised Combined Arms Exercise (RCAX). There they joined the final supporting attachment sections they would take to Afghanistan as Task Force Trinity. At Twentynine Palms, the battalion broke down into companies, platoons, and even squads for a combination of live-fire training, as well as specialized counterinsurgency training in San Diego. On September 20, the battalion traded the hot Mojave desert for the cool mountains of the Sierra Nevada at the Bridgeport Mountain Warfare Training Center. Compressing a normal 2-3 week schedule into just ten days, the Marines conducted multiple long-range patrols, which culminated in a 14 kilometer battalion hike through the mountains. At the beginning of October, 3/3 returned to Hawaii for two weeks of final deployment preparations, followed by a well-deserved two weeks of leave for the Marines and sailors. They were now ready for Afghanistan.


November | December | January | February | March | April | May | June

Key Units

Battalion StaffHeadquarters & Service Company | India Company | Kilo Company | Lima Company | Weapons Company

Key People

Lima-3 near Khowgiani, May 2005. Painting by SSgt. Michael Fay.

Lima-3 near Khowgiani, May 2005. Painting by SSgt. Michael Fay.

Lieutenant Colonel Norm Cooling

Majors Patrick Beckett | Andrew Priddy

Captains Kenneth Barr | Donald Blume III | James Sweeney

First Lieutenants Stephen Boada | Roy Bechtold | Jonathan Frangakis

Second Lieutenant Peter Ankney | Richard Posselt

Sergeant Major William Stables

First Sergeant Vincent Santiago

Staff Sergeant Jason Ramseyer

Sergeants Jairo Fredonis | Levar Palmer | Seth Stanton

Corporals Troy Arndt | Gideon Hornung | Patrick McKinney | David Parkinson | James Rogers Jr | Richard Schoener* | Joseph Summers Jr. | Patrick Whalen

Lance Corporals Andres Aguilar, Jr. | Brock BrothersJose Marin Dominguez | Michael Estrella | Eric German | Nicholas Kirven* | Ryan Lane | Eric Lueken | William Leusink | Yull Estrada Rodriguez | Gary Soupir | Paul Szoldra

Italics indicates Marine is no longer alive. *Marine was killed in action or died on deployment.


FOB Salerno | FOB Jalal Abad | FOB Gardez | FOB Mehtar Lam | FOB Asadabad | Camp Blessing


Khowst Province | Nangahar Province | Laghman Province | Paktia Province | Logar Province | Kunar Province



Key Documents

Enduring Freedom

TAOR Trinity

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